Socialist Worker

London protest pledges solidarity with Arab revolutions – and debates the way forward

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2289

The solidarity protest in central London  (Pic: Smallman )

The solidarity protest in central London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Around 1,000 people protested in London today in solidarity with the revolutions in the Arab world.

The demonstration, organised by Amnesty International and other organisations, attracted supporters of the many revolts across the region – and heard calls for them to spread further.

Egyptian activist Dina Makram told the crowd, “One year after we got rid of Mubarak, students and workers in Egypt have organised a general strike against the military government.

“I'm saying this here, to people from the other Arab countries and to the people of Britain, because we need a global revolution. We need to bring down all regimes.”

People waved Egyptian flags and chanted “one solution, revolution” from the stage.

Maryam al-Kharaja told Socialist Worker about the protests continuing in Bahrain, despite brutal repression.

“My father was beaten unconscious, arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment,” she said. “My mother was fired from her job. And my family's situation is the same as hundreds of families in Bahrain.

“But Western governments and their media never talk about Bahrain. For them, Bahrain is the inconvenient revolution.”

The protest was called in part as a response to the Bashar al-Assad regime's massacres of protesters in Syria.

People debated how they could help the Syrian revolution. Many felt that outside intervention was now the only option – however much they mistrusted the West.

“The protests have been good as rallying points but they haven't got rid of the regime,” said Omar.

“We need to save lives, even if it means outside intervention from the West. Even if the devil himself took over in Syria, it would be better than with Assad.”

Sumayyah, a student, said she had come “to support the people's revolutions in all the Arab countries – from Tunisia to Yemen.” She told Socialist Worker, “I'm fed up of hearing the word ‘Silmeeya’, which means peaceful protest. There's no room for doing things peacefully any more.

“I don't think there should be Western intervention in Syria. They don't have Syria's interests at heart, they will always back Israel against the Arab world.”

But she thought non-Western intervention could be an answer. “Surrounding Arab countries do need to wake up,” she said. “If they intervene it might be different.”

Mohammed, a Palestinian student at the University of Liverpool, disagreed.

“I hope there isn't an intervention,” he said. “When you have an intervention you get other countries with their own interests. I would rather it went like Tunisia. This should be a Syrian revolution, not a revolution for international governments.”

He also took issue with the Assad regime's frequent claim that it stands up to Israel on behalf of the Palestinians.

“Assad uses the resistance card well,” said Mohammed. “But it is empty. Since 1967 Israel has occupied not just Palestine but parts of Syria too, and he has done nothing.

“He doesn't care about the Syrian or the Palestinian people. He just cares about holding on to power. The Palestinian resistance doesn't want to be associated with a murderer like him.”

As the official rally drew to a close, a group of hundreds marched on the Syrian embassy.

“This is the start of a new era for Syria,” said Yasser, a Syrian living in Birmingham. “People have lost their fear. They have kept it up for 11 months.

“We don't need intervention like what happened in Libya. The bombing just kills more people.

“It is hard now because God is testing us. But our victory will take time. A fire has been lit and it won't go out.”

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Article information

Sat 11 Feb 2012, 20:56 GMT
Issue No. 2289
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